Adjective order

Learn about the word order when you have more than one adjective and do the exercises to practise using it.

Level: intermediate

Two adjectives

We often have two adjectives in front of a noun:

a handsome young man
a big black car
that horrible big dog

Some adjectives give a general opinion. We can use these adjectives to describe almost any noun:

good
bad
lovely
strange
nice
beautiful
brilliant
excellent
awful
important
wonderful
nasty

He's a good/wonderful/brilliant/bad/dreadful teacher.

That's a good/wonderful/brilliant/bad/dreadful book.

Some adjectives give a specific opinion. We only use these adjectives to describe particular kinds of noun, for example:

Food Furniture, buildings People, animals
delicious
tasty
comfortable
uncomfortable
clever
intelligent
friendly

We usually put a general opinion in front of a specific opinion:

nice tasty soup
a nasty uncomfortable armchair

a lovely intelligent animal

We usually put an opinion adjective in front of a descriptive adjective:

a nice red dress
a silly old man
those horrible yellow curtains

Order of adjectives 1

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Order of adjectives 2

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Adjectives after link verbs

We use some adjectives only after a link verb:

afraid
alive
alone
asleep
content
glad
ill
ready
sorry
sure
unable
well

Some of the commonest -ed adjectives are normally used only after a link verb:

annoyed
bored
finished
pleased
thrilled

We say:

Our teacher was ill.
My uncle was very glad when he heard the news.
The policeman seemed to be very annoyed.

but we do not say:

We had an ill teacher.
When he heard the news he was
a very glad uncle.
He seemed to be a very annoyed policeman.

Order of adjectives 3

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Level: advanced

Three or more adjectives

Sometimes we have three adjectives in front of a noun, but this is unusual:

a nice handsome young man     
a big black American car     
that horrible big fierce dog

It is very unusual to have more than three adjectives.

Adjectives usually come in this order:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
General opinion Specific opinion Size Shape Age Colour Nationality Material
Order of adjectives 4­

ReorderingHorizontal_MTQwODI=

Adjectives in front of nouns

A few adjectives are used only in front of a noun:

north
south
east
west

northern
southern
eastern
western
countless
occasional
lone
mere
indoor
outdoor


 

We say:

He lives in the eastern district.
There were countless problems with the new machinery.

but we do not say:

The district he lives in is eastern.
The problems with the new machinery were countless.

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Profile picture for user Kirk

Submitted by Kirk on Mon, 20/05/2019 - 14:32

In reply to by anie1

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Hello agie As far as I know, 'demanding' is normally used to speak of a specific course or teacher (e.g. 'Inorganic chemistry is really demanding' or 'Professor Smith is more demanding than most'), but I think you could say that. All the best Kirk The LearnEnglish Team
Profile picture for user Ahmed Imam

Submitted by Ahmed Imam on Mon, 01/04/2019 - 21:35

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Could you help me please? Are all the following sentences correct? If so, what is the difference between them? - England and Germany are in north Europe. - England and Germany are in northern Europe. - England and Germany are in northerly Europe. Thank you.
Hello Ahmed Imam, Only the second sentence is correct here. 'Northern' is an adjective and has a relative meaning. It describes a part of a larger whole (the part of Europe which is more to the north) 'North' as an adjective is generally used in proper nouns ('the North Pole', 'the North Star', 'North Carolina') or in certain expressions ('the north face of a mountain', 'the north part of London'). 'Northerly' as an adjective usually describes direction ('they set off in a northerly direction'). ~ Peter The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Goktug123 on Sat, 09/03/2019 - 17:48

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Hello Team! I have a question. Do these two sentences have same meaning "Find someone as wild as you run with","Find someone just as wild to run with you"? Thank you!

Hello Goktung123,

The first sentence has a mistake. It should be '...as you to run with'.

 

In terms of meaning there is only one distinction.

The first sentence makes it clear that the point of comparison is 'you': ...someone as wild as you...

The second sentence leaves this ambiguous: ...someone just as wild (as who?)...

 Of course, the context may make this clear.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Peter thank you for your kind help! ActualIy I thought if "to run" modifies "wild" in the second sentence.(how wild(quantity) he/she is) For example,we can say,"He/she is brave enough to run with me" Can we do that kind of comparison with "as adj as or just as adj" ? Thank you!

Hello Goktug123

I hope you don't mind me answering for Peter. I'm not completely sure I understand your question, but let me answer what I think you are asking about.

The 'as + adj + as' structure does quantify the adjective, but this quantification is relative to another person. In 'She is just as brave as me', 'me' is this reference point, but if you don't mention who the other person is after the second 'as', then it must be understood from context -- for example, maybe the sentences before explain who this person is and how brave they are. There must be another person whose bravery is described for this structure to make sense.

'She is brave enough to run with me' also quantifies 'her' bravery, but her bravery is not compared to my bravery -- it is relative to whatever it is about my running that requires bravery. Again, this has to be understood from the context.

I hope this answers your question, but if not, please ask again, making your question as specific as possible.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Zeeshan Siddiqii on Fri, 01/03/2019 - 06:11

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Is the use of the adjective 'required' correct in the following sentence? "The man got such dams built that its water comes in the field only as per required."

Hello Zeeshan Siddiqii,

The correct form here would be as required, without 'per'. I would suggest one or two other changes to make the sentence more natural:

The man had dams built in such a way that the water comes into the field only as required.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Goktug123 on Sun, 10/02/2019 - 18:29

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Hello team! Do these sentences have same meaning? "I took the printed photos" "I took the photos printed" Are words of "printed" in these sentences adjective? Thank you!

Hello Goktug123

Yes, that's right, 'printed' is an adjective here. In general, adjectives go before the noun they modify, so the first sentence is correct and the second one is not.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by anie1 on Fri, 01/02/2019 - 08:02

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Hello, I would like to ask the following 1. When we want to order coffee with or without sugar a.with no sugar we can say I would like my coffee black? even if it is espresso? b.with little sugar,I would like my coffee mild or medium?(for any kind of coffee) 2. When someone liives in the north/south part of a city,we say He lives in the northen/southern suburb of Rome/Madrid etc? Thank you in advance
Profile picture for user Kirk

Submitted by Kirk on Fri, 01/02/2019 - 11:04

In reply to by anie1

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Hello agie

If you say you want your coffee black, it means with no milk. Everywhere I've been, they give you a packet of sugar so you can add it yourself if you want it. The same is true for an espresso.

If I were in a place where the server added the sugar, I'd say 'just a little sugar' to communicate that.

A suburb is technically outside a city. I'd probably say the 'northern part of Madrid'.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by html on Fri, 18/01/2019 - 11:43

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Good day! I would like to know why it's ungrammatical to say I am AN English and I am AN American? I read in some books saying that it's grammatical to say I am An English or I am AN American. Is there any grammar rules when to use an + nationality or no article + nationality. Thanks.

Hello html,

It depends whether you are using a noun or an adjective.

 

The correct forms for nationalities using a noun are as follows:

I am an Englishman.

I am an American.

 

If you use an adjective then no article is needed:

I am English.

I am American.

 

Note that the noun and the adjective sometimes look the same (American, for example).

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by chrisp on Tue, 27/11/2018 - 13:12

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Hello, which of these two options is right? black wavy hair or wavy black hair? short curly black hair or short black curly hair? Thank you for your answer!

Hi chrisp,

What I'd say is 'wavy, black hair'. To be honest, I don't think I'd ever say the second combination of adjectives -- it's quite rare to use more than a couple. But if I had to, I suppose I'd say 'short, curly, black hair'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by anie1 on Mon, 05/11/2018 - 06:25

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Hello, I would like to ask what the following sentence means; I work funny hours funny means, not 9 am-5 pm? Thank you in advance
Profile picture for user Peter M.

Submitted by Peter M. on Mon, 05/11/2018 - 07:01

In reply to by anie1

Permalink

Hello agie,

In this context 'funny' means strange or odd. That would suggest hours which are not typical or hours which are not regular, and certainly not regular 9-5.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by anie1 on Sat, 27/10/2018 - 05:41

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Hello, I would like to ask which of the following words is correct When we want to describe a city with many people and restaurants, bars. We can say that this city is full of life? It is a vivid city? or it is a living city? Thank you in advance
Profile picture for user Kirk

Submitted by Kirk on Sat, 27/10/2018 - 16:29

In reply to by anie1

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Hi anie2,

Yes, 'full of life' is good. You could also say 'vibrant', but I wouldn't say 'vivid' or 'living' here.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Sasan1989 on Wed, 03/10/2018 - 08:11

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Hi every one. Could you please help me to find out how can I use these pair-adj next to each other? Healthy Distinct Sport or Distinct healthy Sport? Which one them is Correct? Thank you ^.^

Hi Sasan1989,

My ear tells me that the correct order if 'distinct healthy sport'. I'm afraid, however, that since I don't understand what a 'distinct sport' would be, it's difficult for me to justify or explain my intuition. If you could explain what you mean by this and what context it would be in, I can try to help you understand it a bit better.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by amol on Wed, 22/08/2018 - 06:28

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Hello Sir, Do we need to use articles before both the adjectives used for the same person? She is a tall and a beautiful lady. Or She is a tall and beautiful lady. Kindly help. Regards

Hello amol,

You only need to use the article once. It is not grammatically incorrect to repeat it, but it is poor stylistically.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Elusik on Fri, 13/04/2018 - 21:47

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Hello!!! Could you please help me with the words "big" and "large", "small" and "little"?? which one is correct large room, or big room?? small baby, liitle baby....etc??
Profile picture for user Peter M.

Submitted by Peter M. on Sat, 14/04/2018 - 07:16

In reply to by Elusik

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Hello Elusik,

All of them are correct and it is really a question of style and context as to which is preferable in a given example.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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Submitted by mitykg on Mon, 02/04/2018 - 08:32

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what is Task 3 for ? The different couple words are not explained here or I do not understand this lesson ? I do not understand the answers of task 3, why its answer choose this but not that. afraid and frightened. alive and living. asleep and sleeping. well and healthy. ill and sick.

Hi mitykg,

Task 3 covers characteristics of some adjectives. 'afraid', for example, is not used predicatively, i.e. before a noun -- this is mentioned in the explanation above where it says that some adjectives are used only after a link verb. Therefore, the third option in the first sentence is incorrect, since 'afraid' is not used this way.

The other pairs of adjectives work similarly -- the first ones are not use predicatively, whereas the second ones are.

Does that make sense?

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Van Hua on Thu, 22/03/2018 - 11:38

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HI, Could you please have a check "adjective" part. I can't see the content, except "the order of adjective" Thanks and Best Regards Van

Submitted by Van Hua on Thu, 22/03/2018 - 10:58

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HI, Could you please have a check of " adjective-ed and -ing". I pressed the next button, but that part didn't come up. I tried on the computer and my phone as well. I think it's possible the error system Thanks a lot
Profile picture for user Peter M.

Submitted by Peter M. on Fri, 23/03/2018 - 06:28

In reply to by Van Hua

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Hi Van Hua,

Thank you for letting us know about this. It seems that some of the links here are not working correctly. I have passed it on to our technical team and I hope they will fix the problem quickly.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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Submitted by David Araque on Thu, 04/01/2018 - 23:25

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Good afternoon dear Peter and Kirk. I have a problem with the order of the following sentence and I will really appreciate your help. The__________(two, afternoon, interesting, teacher's, classes) are large. I don't know where to put the genitive in those structures. The two interesting afternoon teacher's classes are large. Or The two teacher's interesting afternoon classes are large. The teacher's interesting two afternoon classes are large.

Hello David Araque,

We generally do not provide answers to questions that are from elsewhere (other sites, books or tests) as we cannot become an answering service for people's homework! However, I can give you a clue which should help you. The clue is that the word teacher's here refers to only one teacher and so the word two must refer to classes, which is the only plural noun. That should help you as it is clear what the other adjectives can describe.

If you try to answer it yourself we will tell you if you have it right or not.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you so much dear Peter for your assistance. So the correct sentence would be: The teacher's two interesting afternoon classes are large.

Hello David,

Yes, that sounds right to me and as far as I can see is the only correct answer.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team